As health conscious individuals, we should be trying to cut as much refined sugar out of our lives as possible.
Unfortunately, the majority of Americans still don’t know the truth about how much sugar they are consuming and how deadly it is. The main reason for this is that most sugars we consume are in processed foods, so we never even know that we are consuming them.
Also, manufacturers are cleverer than we probably give them credit for, as they deliberately and successfully mislead us by calling sugar different names so even if we read the label, we might not recognize it for what it truly is: plain old sugar. After all, how many people can recognize that maltose is actually a type of sugar?
Let’s mention briefly the different types of sugar, mainly glucose and fructose. While glucose is easily metabolized by every cell in the body, fructose can only be metabolized by the liver. Fructose has been shown in study after study to be very unhealthy. A high fructose diet eventually leads to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, fatty liver, and insulin resistance.
Although you should be cutting back on as much sugar as possible, it is particularly important that you avoid consuming sugars that are high in fructose.
Now let’s look at the most common names for sugar.
1. Sugar or Sucrose
This is the most common type of sugar, the kind you probably have sitting next to your coffee maker. Commonly known as “table sugar”, this is the naturally occurring type of carb that is found in most fruits and plants, such as sugar cane and sugar beets. Plain old table sugar is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose, naturally bound together.
2. Agave Nectar
Also known as agave syrup, this is a very popular sugar alternative that comes from the leaves of the agave plant. Although it doesn’t spike blood sugar as much as regular table sugar, it still contains between 70-90% fructose and 10-30% glucose. This sweetener isn’t really a healthy alternative at all. It is highly processed and is might be even worse for your health than plain old white sugar!
3. High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Maybe even better known by its abbreviation: HFCS. This type of sweetener is extremely popular in the US and can be found in almost every type of processed food and drink in your supermarket today. This sweetener is a GM product and is so popular because it is extremely cheap.
Other sugars that contain a combination of both glucose and fructose are:
- Yellow sugar
- Grape sugar
- Turbinado sugar
- Treacle sugar
- Invert sugar
- Maple syrup
- Sorghum syrup
- Refiner’s syrup
- Muscovado sugar
- Raw sugar
- Panela sugar
- Golden syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Golden sugar
- Beet sugar
- Florida crystals
- Blackstrap molasses
- Fruit juice
- Buttered syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Cane juice crystals
- Brown sugar
- Demerara sugar
- Cane sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar (sometimes called powdered sugar)
- Carbo syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Date sugar
- Castor sugar
Most of these are fairly easy to recognize as the word ‘sugar’ is in their name.
The following items are types of sugar that contain only glucose. Sometimes they are pure glucose, other times they are combined with other types of sugar other than fructose:
- Barley malt
- Corn syrup solid
- Corn syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Rice syrup
- Diastatic malt
- Malt syrup
- Ethyl maltol
- Glucose solids
The following sugars are strictly fructose sweeteners.
- Crystalline fructose
Lastly, there are two types of sugar that contain neither fructose nor glucose. They are not as sweet and, therefore, aren’t as common, but you often find these combined with other types of sweeteners:
The sugar found in natural foods such as vegetables, and dairy products are all natural. You don’t have to worry about these types of sugar, especially when eating the whole food. You will also get fiber, nutrients, and other things Mother Nature intended for you to consume.
However, it’s the unnatural types of sugar that you should look out for. The best way to do this is by eating a more natural, whole food type of diet and removing as many processed foods as you can.
If you do buy processed foods, be aware that some foods contain far more sugar than you ever imagined. The following are the worst offenders:
- Fruit filled yogurts or yogurt drinks;
- Canned soup;
- Salad dressings;
- Tomato sauce, juice, or any type of canned tomato product;
- Granola bars;
- Cereals (even ones that use words like “natural” or “healthy”);
- Dried fruit (this is natural sugar but it is highly concentrated so limit your consumption);
- Juices of all kinds.
Other places where sugar hides is in condiments such as ketchup and soy sauce, as well as many types of canned vegetables. Always read labels carefully and opt to make it fresh (and organic) as often as possible.